Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Filipino High Tea: Cafe Laguna

I've always wanted to do this ever since I read about it online. Cebuano food blog hopping has become one of my pastimes in the evening. I never used to eat out this often but I find myself constantly plotting where I am going next. Eating out is fun though with inevitable consequences. My waistline is getting wider and my wallet is getting thinner. Tsk. This will have to end soon though. 

Restaurants that offer afternoon high tea in Cebu are next to nada. I could only think of two, Cafe Laguna and Crimson Resort but who would go so far just for a surely expensive high tea inside an exclusive resort when you can get it in the city at a much affordable price? So I had a date with my mom last Sunday to spend some quality high-tea time together.

This is not your typical Mad Hatter's afternoon tea. 

Think of it as high tea with Filipino traditions. You won't find any fancy china here nor doilies. Instead of savory dainty finger sandwiches and scones, you get cute little steamed cupcake sliders that almost resemble like 'mini burgers'. Instead of the lavish array of whimsical tea desserts, you get a selection of homemade Filipino afternoon treats/snacks.

A pot of brewed Pandan Tea is served with the three-tiered stand of goodies. Pandan tea has a special aroma with a mildly sweet taste. Did you know that drinking this tea is also good for your health?

My First Espasol 

The top tier is filled with four rolls of Espasol wrapped in banana leaf. This is the first time I've tried (come to think of it, also heard of) this dessert. It reminds me of a much softer Puto Bumbong mixed with shreds of fresh coconut meat. It's very nice and almost melts in your mouth.


Espasol is another type of Filipino treat that's shaped like a cylinder, made from rice flour mixed with coconut strips and cooked in coconut milk. It is rolled in what seems to be finely ground rice. The outer coating has a texture similar to cornmeal.

Savory Adobo with sweet Puto (steamed rice cupcakes)

Onto the middle layer:  Mini puto cake sliders cut in half and filled with shreds of adobo meat. The rice cakes are perfectly soft, fluffy and moist.

The bottom layer held Turon Rolls (Banana Spring Rolls) and Bibingka cakes with Salted Eggs & Cheese.

Perfectly crisp fried spring rolls filled with banana and jackfruit, lightly sprinked with sesame seeds. 

These are delicious! They made it just the way I like my Turon.

The humble Bibingka with grated coconut

Slices of Bibingka completed the assortments. Bibingka is another type of steamed Filipino rice cake that's also made from rice flour, sugar and coconut milk, cooked in a clay pot and topped with slivers of salted duck egg and melted cheese. Filipinos really do use a lot of coconut milk in our traditional desserts.

The Bibingka cake was moist and tender yet firm and springy. The saltiness of the duck eggs helps balance out the richness from the coconut milk and the sweetness of the rice cake. This sweet-salty combo is quite addictive.

Fresh Lumpia (Filipino fresh salad rolls) with sweet peanut sauce as an extra order (veggies are never left out.)

The Filipino style high tea at Cafe Laguna could be the perfect end to your day the next time you get an urge for tea and merienda.